Wednesday, December 30, 2009

‘Blessed to Be a Blessing’ provides theme for Shenandoah District.

The 42nd yearly conference of Shenandoah District was held at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Nov. 6-7. The conference began with worship led by moderator Matthew Fike on the conference theme, "Blessed to Be a Blessing."

A Deputation Team from Bridgewater College provided music and worship leadership for the opening service. Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships, gave a Moment for Mission on the denomination’s 100 Homes in Haiti project. The evening offering, totaling $1,627.53, will benefit the Haiti project.

Conference participants numbered 355 on Saturday. The conference-goers enjoyed informative insight sessions highlighting district and denominational ministries such as Brethren Woods, National Youth Conference, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and the district’s annual auction. The district’s Mission Implementation Team held a session to inform delegates about a proposed governance plan. Conference participants also had time to browse exhibits and enjoyed a time of fellowship and refreshments provided by the Pleasant Valley congregation.

In business sessions, the district approved a new governance plan. The recommendation came from the District Board. Revisions grew out of the board’s desire to move to a governance model that assists congregations to be vital, effective, and healthy. The new model streamlines decision making with a Leadership Team replacing the district’s Executive Committee and District Board. Ministry Teams will be more nimble and focused on empowering congregations and groups within the district. At the heart of the model is the biblical concept of discerning gifts for ministry. A major emphasis will be on working with congregations to call and train persons for leadership.

Delegates came forward to share questions, concerns, and support for the proposed changes. Following discussion, moderator Fike led the delegate body in a time of prayer. Delegates approved the revisions to the constitution and by-laws by an 89 percent vote.

Throughout the business sessions, congregational highlights were given from across the district. The Mill Creek Church shared about its emphasis on Youth Ministries. The Mt. Pleasant Church shared about the blessings of the Springs of Living Water church renewal initiative. The Pleasant Valley Church told about Hope Chapel, a worship initiative to reach out to families and individuals in Augusta County who visit the Verona Food Pantry.

The District Board portrayed scenes from an Executive Committee meeting illustrating many ministries that are supported through the district budget. During the celebration, Christian Growth Institute dean Ed Carl presented graduating students with certificates. Those receiving certificates included Jerry Shiflet, Scott Payne, Richard and Janet Parkhurst, and David Chappell.

Other items of business included a "Mission Challenge Budget" for 2010 with income and expense parameters of $407,469. Delegates were informed of possible reductions to the budget if end-of-year finances and commitments for 2010 do not meet the approved income level.

Election results included Janet Elsea as moderator-elect, Ellen K. Layman as clerk, and Gilda Gilbert called to the District Conference Program and Arrangements Committee. Called to the District Board were Martha Barlow, Karen Fleishman, Martha Graves, Sharon Lantz, Linda Neff, Darren Howdyshell, Sue Sandy, Charles Simmons, and Randy Simmons. Henry Elsea Jr. was named district delegate to the Standing Committee of Annual Conference.

Bernie Fuska will serve as moderator for 2010. Jim Miller, district executive, led a consecration service for newly elected personnel, installing moderator Fuska and moderator-elect Janet Elsea with a laying on of hands. Fuska adjourned the conference by sharing a vision for the district which centers on Christ’s teaching of "the things that make for peace."

Source: 12/30/2009 Newsline Extra

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